Remember those TV ads for clap-on, clap-off light switches and key chains..? You clapped your hands and on went the light or beep went your key chain. You clapped your hands again and off went the light and your key chain stopped beeping.
Are you looking at social media in the same way? Clap your hands and on goes your social media ‘campaign’. Clap your hands again and it’s turned off.
Clap-clap and you slap on a social media campaign. The young-kid does a Facebook page and some cute tweets. Somebody ghostwrites a blog for you or you write a post oh, every month or two. And you do something…not sure what or why, but something that someone says is cute and funny and email it to your customers.
BAM! There it is. Social media.
And you sit back and wait…and wait. And after awhile, if you remember your social media campaign…you realize nothing has happened:
- No ‘conversations’ have occurred, whatever those were;
- No referrals,
- No sustained increase in traffic to your site,
- The number of prospects has not increased,
- Nor have the number of referrals.
- Conversion rates stay abysmally low.
And you’re looking for that someone who said ‘social media’.
And you clap-clap and it’s turned off. Blog comes down. The young kid is fired. Tweets stop and the Facebook page dies of neglect with minimal notice or complaint from its members.
And no one’s world is worse for the wear and tear.
Clap-clap. Your social media effort is successful.
- Your company’s Facebook page is jumping with updates and comments, likes and photos.
- Your blog is regularly updated by you and your members, maybe you have some guest bloggers, too. Maybe they are customers or vendors?
- Your Twitter account is growing with real followers having real conversations about your products, your company…even you.
- Other resources like Yelp, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, YouTube…and more are used.
Now, more people are talking about your products, your services, what they like about it, what they WOULD like about it if you heard them. They suggest things you could change, things to improve…what if the packaging was easier to open or had this feature or didn’t have that feature.
Now, more people talk about what …they…DON’T like about it. The statistics show these folks have more conversations on this topic than any other topic. Misery loves company. It loves community, too. And now you have offered them a community, at your expense…literally.
Now what are you going to do?
- Clap-clap and that last conversation goes away?
- Clap-clap and those suggestions can be ignored or edited as it implies your leadership lacks vision or you cannot innovate? Or there is a deadline expected for these changes? One you cannot meet?
Your employees, executives, and managers, partners and vendors, investors and board can see that conversation. Dollars to donuts, Homer, I bet they have had many of these same ideas. Or, they have wanted to have many of these same conversations. With you. With themselves.
Or they are threatened by those conversations. Maybe your culture does not embrace these conversations. Maybe you are threatened as well to see such an open conversation shared openly and transparently with and without your permission. And maybe you are worried what happens when that conversation comes in house…
At this point, you discover the clap-off feature for social media doesn’t work. It’s like you’re at the opera. You clap and cheer for the opening act. And your key chain starts beeping…and beeping…and beeping.
Once the conversation starts with your prospects and customers, their referrals and your employees, your partners and vendors, board and shareholders…no amount of clapping and calling to order, in-person or digitally, can stop it. You can repress it. You can issue internal company policies. You can fire employees, terminate partners. You can ignore your customers, take those sites down, stop tweeting.
However, those conversations still take place. They will only move to a more receptive audience: your competitor. It will be your employees, customers, partners and vendors carrying that conversation to your competitors: current or startup.
Social media, transparent and open conversations, tend to be like the Borg. They absorb everything and everyone one in their path. Resistance is futile. Prepare for it now. Here are but a few ideas to consider before you clap-on for a social media…thing, strategy or campaign, whatever people call it.
Start with those closest to you. That’s your employees. Do you have an open, transparent, culture? How do you respond to failure or criticism? How do you respond to a new idea? Is everyone, including you the leader, prepared for an onslought of feedback…should it happen?
What do you offer that is worth discussing? You will find out what is interesting when you join this conversation. Interesting does not mean appealing. Interesting means how does your audience answer these three questions with your offering:
- What’s in it for them?
- Why should they care?
- Why should they believe?
So, where do you turn to for answers?
- The first place to look for answers are your employees.
- The next place to look are their conversations with customers.
- The next place to look is your customers. Call them.
- Then your vendors and partners.
All of them can answer that question. And it will be different than what you expect. Probably.
Are you prepared for change? Do you have the systems to handle change? How quickly can you change a feature? How quickly can you add a product? How quickly can you address questions and concerns, rants and raves, vigilantes and evangelists?
Can you let go? The ‘you’ is both you personally and the you of your company. The conversation remains in your hands. But, now there are many hands.
This post has gone on too long. That may be the point. Social media starts a conversation that once started does not stop even at the end of a post. That’s why comments on a blog post are so simple and powerful.
But I recommend you ask yourselves now what is being said about your offering by those who talk it about now. Social media will only accelerate the spread of that message. It won’t change the message. Social media can no more change your message than lipstick can change a pig’s face. Make sure you like the answer to some of these questions before you clap your hands and slap on a social media…something… for your company. Once you have turned it on, you can’t clap your hands and turn it off.
About the author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of a small business. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit.
istockphoto from BillCourtney42